For the latest information about the presence of coronavirus in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Penn State health and safety officials are closely monitoring a global outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new strain of coronavirus. As symptoms of coronavirus can be very similar to the flu, which is active across Pennsylvania at this time, Penn State health officials recommend that anyone with flu-like symptoms contact their health care provider for an evaluation.
What is novel coronavirus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is a respiratory illness with confirmed person-to-person spread — believed to occur from the exchange of respiratory fluids. However, the CDC continues to believe that the risk to the general American public remains low at this time. The CDC recommends prevention techniques like washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoiding your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
What are the symptoms of novel coronavirus?
Common signs of coronavirus include mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure.
How does novel coronavirus spread?
Although much remains unknown about how this new strain of coronavirus spreads, according to the CDC, the virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The CDC says it may be possible for a person to contract COVID-19 by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. Learn more about transmission at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html.
How can novel coronavirus be prevented and treated?
For the most up-to-date information about prevention and treatment, visit the CDC online. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19 and no vaccine to prevent infection. The CDC recommends that people take the following preventive actions to protect themselves and others from respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 at Penn State New Kensington should contact the campus' Office of Health Services. Penn State urges faculty and staff to contact their health care provider immediately if they have respiratory symptoms with a fever and have recently traveled or think they have been exposed to COVID-19.
According to the CDC, anyone who feels sick should:
- Seek medical advice — Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about any recent travel and your symptoms.
- Stay home and avoid contact with others.
- Not travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.
- Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
If I have questions about coronavirus, who should I contact?
Please visit https://sites.psu.edu/virusinfo/contacts-and-resources-for-penn-staters/ for resources and contact information for members of the Penn State community.
For information from national and global health organizations, visit: https://sites.psu.edu/virusinfo/national-and-international-health-resources/.